In every business, one of the main goals is always to be the best in an area of operation. And one key detail that usually comes out is that, in most cases, businesses always seek a larger impact and reach than their present locality. So, if a business is operating within a municipality, then their next target is to expand to the rest of the city, state, nationally, and eventually globally. This is how most multinational corporations are born.
However, expanding globally stage often comes with added challenges. Most investors look at these added challenges from the perspective of geopolitical risks and macroeconomic risks but then forget how cultural differences can affect their businesses. These differences range from simple norms and myths to religion and customs, and can significantly affect the operational strategy of a business.
However, advances in technology and the increased penetration of internet services can help MNCs to reduce the risks associated with multicultural integration.
Now you don’t have to live in a city to connect with the world
Technology devices such as smartphones and tablets are more affordable than larger computers. This has led to increased internet penetration and the number of users across the world, and this is good for MNCs. Mobile applications including Facebook and Twitter are also playing a crucial role in helping global businesses to engage audiences across the globe.
These platforms have become very important for businesses looking to explore opportunities across diverse cultures. By drawing information from such platforms, it becomes easier to engage in intercultural communication, which is a crucial element for any business looking to roll out operations on a global scale.
For instance, people use Facebook to share their life experiences and this has been found to be a reliable source of information that can help in determining what people might be interested in, or what they dislike most. This is part of a bigger task for a business trying to understand its target audience in a unique market.
Interacting with the audience from these social media platforms can also help a business and its employees to develop a strong intercultural communication competence, which according to Global Cognition can be very helpful when adapting a company’s business strategy to match customer expectations in various parts of the world. Importantly, this can also ensure that business operations do not infringe on the norms and beliefs of a given society.
What’s the impact on the corporate workforce?
The application of digital media on intercultural communication has enabled people from diverse cultures to share crucial information about their life styles, consumers tastes, and business trends, as well as religion.
Understanding these aspects gives the two parties confidence when talking about each other’s local issues thereby resulting in quality communication. Companies are using these technologies to build cohesion between their diverse selection of workforce across the globe.
From a digital perspective, the world is shrinking, and now companies can coordinate communication between their staff members across distinct cultures via smartphones using applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook Messenger, among others. As such, board meetings are now being held in virtual conferences.
Even for those that speak in different languages, there are devices that now support automated audio translation. A good example is Logbar’s ili, which translates speech in real time. It can currently translate between English, Chinese, and Japanese, but Logbar are slowly adding more languages to ili’s database.
CEO Takuro Yoshida says that his 'hope is to create a future in which more people around the world will have the ability to use ili.' Ili pulls information from a database of words and phrases to form translations. Therefore, you can almost imagine a world in which regardless of your ethnicity, dialogue between people and groups will be seamless, even when conducting multinational video conferences.
With these developments, companies are able to formulate an action-driven business strategy for cultural integration when in pursuit of new markets. This starts with a simple online research followed by an in-depth study of the cultures of the targeted markets, which can also be done via social media platforms, web 2.0. platforms and wiki-pages.
This also gives the companies a basis on which to identify talent that will work in the targeted markets. Again, this process can include an option to outsource the workforce from a local human resource firm. This eliminates the need for education on local cultures, but creates the necessity to train the recruits on the company’s business practices and norms. But due to the expansive usage of technology and social media, most of the new recruits are likely to have already familiarized themselves with the norms of their recruiter in advance.
Then, of course, the organization must also make sure that their products are suited for the target market, and with so much information available online, again this simplifies the process of cultural integration into the company’s business strategy.
In summary, cultural integration can make or break a company’s operations depending on how well it understands the practices and norms of a given market. An incomplete study of the targeted market can lead to a fractured relationship between the business and the people of the targeted market.
Advances in technology have simplified the process for businesses to conduct a comprehensive study on their target markets. And with so many people now sharing a lot about what they do and what they like on digital media, businesses can now only fault themselves for failing to find the right products for their target customer base.